The Sea of Jellyfish

17 Dec

Sea of Jellyfish

An older blog from a long time ago.
When I first took a look I couldn’t believe it. Thousands of jellyfish pulsating thru crystal clear water. Wow, absolutely breathtaking. THOUSANDS. We stood there in disbelief watching them float around, layers and layers of jellyfish. Usually the water in this area is cloudy and green, today it was like a mountain spring. We quickly grabbed our gear and headed down to the waters edge.

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A few mintues later I clipped on my weight belt and dropped in, the water was cold but not unbearable like last night when I froze my ass off looking for lobsters (yeah bitches, I got two and no, you ain’t getting any :). But I could feel the sting of the 57 degree water against my skin. That lasted for two seconds until I took a breath of air and then dove down. Then I was surrounded by them and couldn’t think of anything else except how fantastic the experience was. It’s shallow here, fifteen feet at most and the jellyfish are EVERYWHERE. On the surface, midwater and even on the bottom. But the bottom is where the biggest ones are and I like snorkeling there anyways so I quietly kick down there and begin scooping them up in a net. I sit there for a while and invert myself so I’m swimming upside down parallel to the surface and just watch them, pulsating in and out, you can even see the outline of their stomach! They float lazily around and around, I brush up against some of them and see them blow by me because of the current I’ve caused. I feel my lungs begin to burn and head upwards and quietly clear my snorkel and take another breath.

For the first time in my life I feel like sponge bob squarepants or patrick the seastar. You know how it looks like they are having fun? Well thats because IT’S FUN! Ever catch butterflies when you were a child?  That’s how I describe it to school kids.  It’s exactly like that.  Except you are underwater. I choose which ones I want and carefully scoop up two or three in a small handheld net and head to the surface where we placed them into a bucket full of water.  Jellyfish are so delicate that they tear easily so they have to be packed carefully. And these, in case you are wondering, are moon jellyfish, you can’t feel the sting because normally your skin is too thick for the stingers to penetrate.  Try touching a purple striped jellyfish or other species and you will experience extreme pain.

Again and again we head back and carefully scoop them back into the buckets. And in a matter of about five minutes I’ve got thirty in the bucket so I carefully pull myself over the side and start packing them. My partner has a big grin as she carefully dips her net into the bucket as well. I’m still packing and all too soon we figure we have enough. When all was said and done there were 58 moon jellyfish swirling around in carefully packed bags of seawater. One hour later and they are back at the aquarium and on display. I think about how much fun that was as I sit under the scalding spray of hot water in the shower at work. Someday you’ll have to come and visit me and see them so I can rub it in even more 😉

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Every day isn’t as great as that day was.  On some days I’m stuck in awkward positions tearing apart pumps or trying to buff scratches out of display glass.  But on some very special days I’m out in the field collecting specimens.   It’s days like this that keep me going…

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This picture isn’t mine but it’s probably of our display at the aquarium.  The other two pix are mine, that’s why they are blurry ;).

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